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History of Monopoly

Monopoly has had a monopoly on the board game market for years.

By Geeks StaffPublished 8 years ago 4 min read

Did you know that the game Monopoly was supposed to show players the negative aspects of private monopolies? With topics such as the stock exchange, bankruptcy, mortgaging, and jail, we probably should have seen how realistic this game is. A while back, comedian Louis C.K. explained what generally happened every time he and his daughters played the game together: “My six-year-old totally understands Monopoly but she isn’t quite ready for the emotional trauma of her inevitable loss. I look her dead in the face and say, ‘You see all your properties and houses and all your money? That’s mine now. Oh no, no, no, you can’t play any more because even with all your stuff, it doesn’t come close to what you owe me.’” Obviously children cannot grasp the full meaning of Monopoly, but that’s because they were not the target audience at first.

The Rise of Monopoly

Image via Landlords Game

The origins of Monopoly lie within the early 1900s with Lizzie Magie. In 1906, Magie created a game called The Landlord’s Game, through which she wanted to teach people about land ownership and the risks that come with it. This game was self-published and became something of a cult game with only a few people purchasing it and showing it to their friends. That is exactly what happened with Charles Todd when he and his wife showed their friends, Charles and Esther Darrow. At that time, Charles Darrow had been working odd jobs since he had lost his job after the stock market crash of 1929. After asking Todd for the official rules, Darrow modified the game and sold it to Parker Brothers, a toy and game manufacturer.

By 1941, a few years after Parker Brothers licensed the game for sale outside of the US, the British Secret Intelligence Service made special edition board games with hidden features such as maps, compasses, real money, and other objects used to escape WWII Nazi camps and sent these games to prisoners of war. Since then, more than 275 million games have been sold worldwide according to Monopoly’s official website. Available in 114 countries and in 47 languages, there are multiple special editions of the game that include specific sports teams, TV shows, cartoons, and more.

A Game for Tough Times

Image via Neatorama

Interestingly enough, it seems that Monopoly becomes more popular during a tough economy. “When you have a troublesome economy, people have more time to play games than when we’re at full employment,” Phil Orbanes, a former toy industry executive, said. As somewhat of an expert on Monopoly—he has written several books on the game—he tracked the spikes in the game’s sales and noticed that they all coincided with economic recessions. It is not clear whether people buy the game because they have more time at home without a job, like Orbanes says or because the game revolves around getting money and becoming rich. Either way, it is interesting to note the correlation between the two.

Monopoly in Pop Culture

Image via Forbes

Over the years, Monopoly has become much more than just a game. There actually exists a Monopoly World Championship tournament, which was started in 1973 in Liberty, New York. The first winner was Lee Bayrd from the United States, but a US citizen has not won the tournament since 1974. While the last tournament was held in 2009 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, there is a revival taking place in 2016. In September, the 14th Monopoly World Championships will be held in Macau, China. Besides this achievement, Monopoly has crossed into jewelry. Alex and Ani, a jewelry company from Rhode Island, has created bracelet charms of the Monopoly tokens—the house, the car, the Scottie dog, and the cat.

With its soaring popularity, it’s no wonder why Monopoly is still around today. There was a documentary about the game called Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story from 2010 that won an Emmy. Also, Hasbro recently announced its partnership with Emmet/Furla Films to make a live-action movie based on the game, which will be produced by Ridley Scott. However, the focus of the game should be on its lessons on land ownership and the risks of monopolies.

Genre-Based Monopoly Games

Monopoly has evolved into more experience than game. Gathering with fans of a specific genre enhances the experience as it adds an edge to the game based on knowledge. Trivia can be as important as Monopoly game strategy. There are hundreds of genre or brand based Monopoly sets. But no true collection would fail to include at least a few of the following picks.

Better buy Moe’s. How much for the Springfield nuclear facility? Springfield is for sale with this exceptional version of The Simpsons Monopoly. The pewter crafted pieces of Homer, Bart, and the rest of the character are awesome. What makes this version so cool for fans is the conversations and episode discussions it inspires.

There are no uncool Marvel Avenger characters in the well-designed Avengers collector’s editions of Monopoly... Each piece looks like it belongs in a display case. But is is the memories from the comics that playing the games with friends creates. Conversation usually turns to serious trivia when you get four marvel fans around a table to play.The coolest thing about the Street Fighter Monopoly is the box. Its vintage art work makes it an immediate collectable. Tactics here are your typical Monopoly maneuvers, but there is something that just makes it cool to play your favorite character from the vintage arcade game.
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Geeks Staff

The biggest bunch of geeks gathered in one 12,000 sqft warehouse in Northern New Jersey who spend their whole day just being geeks.

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